Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

OK. F me. Seriously F me. I didn't mind the Velvet Sound that much when the AKM Velvet Sound DACs came out. Heck it was mostly cheap DACs, so who cared. The immediately noticed benefits of greater resolution and more expansive soundstage seemed to outweigh the disadvantages. However @Psalmanazar pointed the Velvet Sound stuff out early on; and over time, I actually grew to dislike the AKM Velvet Sound.

I didn't think this possible, but from the Modius' balanced outs, this Velvet Sound stuff is no longer. Or at least none of the disadvantages of the Velvet Sound (murky lows, recessed mids, soft attacks, raised last octave) but with all its advantages (resolution and expansive soundstage). Holy cow, this actually sounds like the older Modi 2 or other AKM4399, 4495 based DACs with the crisp attacks, evident mids, more palatable highs, bass textures, punchy bass even! After what seems like years, it's so nice hearing the E and A notes on a guitar not sound as they've been processed through a blender.

THD+N (db) vs Amplitude (dbFS) at 1kHz. GRN = SE, RED = BAL
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The Solaris 2020 is an update that addresses a few things with the OG Solaris, at least in my mind. None of these issues were deal-breakers, and some may even be inclined to prefer the OG. In other words, I am not suggesting that everyone upgrade; but rather read and consider before doing so.

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  1. OG Solaris' laid-back upper mids (and lower and maybe overall treble) which was a vocal complaint by more than a few. Keep in mind that more than a few preferred this presentation. I was OK with it and continued to use the Solaris.
  2. OG Solaris' physical footprint, too long a nozzle, too large a housing. I wasn't a fan of this, but I could like with it.
Well, @KenBall has knocked one out of the park again, big time. Or either he knows what I like. I've been an unabashed fan of Campfire Audio ever since the Newport SHOW many years ago when I first heard the Jupiter and Lyra.

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Take the Sennheiser HD650, but correct all its shortcomings, make it into an IEM and we get the Ara. The Ara retains the HD650's slightly thick lows and mid-bass emphasis, but removes the veil, extends the bass fully to 20Hz, and brings about super articulation that only a BA driver can achieve. Other defining characteristics of the HD650, such as narrow emphasis in the upper mids that gives that a bit of smack and edge, and its sedate and smooth highs, are present. In terms of IEMs, I don't know how many of you guys remember the Orion (which was another one of my favorites and one I recently recommended to a friend with a modest budget) - but another way to look at the Ara is to see it as souped up Orion. Like super-souped up.
I'm jumping ahead of myself, but I am not impressed. It's like turning back the clock back to sigma-delta nasties of 2010 (sssshhh, sssshhh, sssshhh). If you want the ultimate expression of the AKM sound, get the RME ADI2. If you want something very close to that kind of sound for x10 less money and don't need the RME's features, get the Modi 3. Topping couldn't do anything with the AKM4497, two of them, which is AKM's second to TOTL chip.

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What's disturbing is that the Modi 3 uses the AKM4490, which is only a -112db part! Schiit is actually getting superior results with a far inferior chip (the 4490 is two levels down from the 4497), and only a single chip! Never mind my subjective impressions where I felt the D70 sounded cooler, more "digital", and less resolving than the Modi 3. Scientifically speaking, if you believe in the idea of SINAD being the major indicator of sound quality, you are much better off with Modi 3 at $99. It's not that the D70 is bad; however, bottom line is that that Schiit saves you from overpriced Chinese designed and Chinese made gear.
Notable highlights:
  • Employs es9038q2m IC contrasted with es9038pro used in Matrix XSP
  • Decent performance, especially considering price and size, but don't expect a giant killer
  • Dynamic Range > 125 dB on USB ASIO input, rather impressive for a microcontroller shield product
  • Gain Linearity tight to -110 dBFS then less than ± 1 dB to -130 dBFS on USB ASIO input
  • While less than ± 0.1 dB there is an odd ripple in the frequency response
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Conclusions thus far:
  • Measurement behavior hard to predict or extrapolate from one measurement to another - some odd behavior and interactions.
  • However, steady state distortion measurements too low to make a difference or tell us anything that we can correlate to human subjective perception.
  • Roll off on the high end starts gradually at 10kHz and is down -4db at 20kHz. Hard to say if people can hear this. I think I can.
  • "Preamp" should still be treated as digital attenuation where we still want to keep the attenuation to a minimum.
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A blast from the past and history lesson. Decades before the ortho craze reignited with the HiFiMan, Audeze, and Dan Clark Audio a bit later, there were orthodynamic headphones from the 70s. These two headphones in particular were modded by @rhythmdevils, who has recently arisen.* One thing to keep in mind is that they do not sound good in stock form.

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Take a look at the driver diaphragm. Sure it's not "nano" meter scale material (and that's probably a good thing when it comes to durability); however, take a look at how fine the traces are! That's Japanese manufacturing at its best. (Fostex was the OEM).
Canceled gigs etc no revenue. Keeping the creative musical community intact is so important not just for the health and livelihood of musicians around the world but also for the future of vibrant musical communities that foster creative music that we love.

Here’s a link to a great way to help.
https://covid19musicrelief.byspotify.com/en-us

Here’s also a direct link to the USA based Musicares paypal donate page. The other link is better because it’s matched $ for $ by Spotify and is global but CC only. https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/6808

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Every single member on this forum should donate or walk the plank. Thank you. I miss all of you dorks.
I came on these late because I had the troops take a look at this first (that is screen it because I don't like wasting my time these days) to see if this was worthy of contention. Now I wish I got these direct and earlier because I am rather smitten by them. Do I feel the clouds have parts and I have been touched by the hand of God? No. However, these do two things particularly well: bass extension (for an open dynamic driver) and "speed". If there is anything that comes to mind, it's the STAX SR007. Yes, we can say that these are a dynamic driver version of the SR007 (with the both the limitations and strengths of dynamic drivers). I could be that I am just happy that there have been more dynamic driver designs lately. A few years ago, it seemed like "do we really need yet another planar" when it seemed that everything new that was being released was another ortho, usually with an letter appended on a prior model's name.

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@Philimon Asked if I would be willing to test out his Symphones V9 build, which he got from Wabi Sabi Headphones. Given @purr1n's recent love thread on the RS2e, I was admittedly curious.

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These remind me a lot more of the HP1000 I heard years ago than they do the SR60s I owned even more years ago (many more years). They are brighter and more aggressive than the HP1000. Less dark and warm overall. But they have more of the sense of refinement I remember from those, whereas the SR60s were grating and rough.